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Dr. Seuss and Social Issues

News/Business. NYU Law School forum. New.

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Horton 54, Dr. Seuss 21, Us 18, Seuss 8, New York 5, Jojo 5, Washington 4, Yop 3, United States 3, Kangaroo 3, Sendak 3, Sylvester Mcmonkey Mcbean 3, Columbia 2, Michigan 2, Hooville 2, Grimm 2, Texas 2, Hoos 2, Sneetches 2, Whitman 2,
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  CSPAN    Dr. Seuss and Social Issues    News/Business. NYU  
   Law School forum. New.  

    March 23, 2013
    10:05 - 12:39am EDT  

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>> thank you very much for coming today. i would like to thank the national press club staff for organizing today's event. here is a reminder that you can buy more information on our website. if you like a copy, that check out the website at www w.press.org. thank you. we are adjourned. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> next come at a discussion on the human rights team in a reference to dr. seuss. then another chance to see
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hargitayriska talking about her work with child abuse. aboutburn of talks financial matters including the budget, the continuing resolution, and his long time thinking about the fiscal cliff. he also discusses the debate over gun legislation. that is sunday at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. eastern. called a night, bigamist and adulterer, rachel jackson died of an apparent heart attack before injured jackson takes office. the whitebecomes house hostess.
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we will include your questions and comments by phone, facebook, and twitter. schoolnew york law repute and racial justice project recently hosted panel discussions on civil society and the writings of dr. seuss. topics included shared interest in society. this is one hour and 25 minutes. >> good morning. introduce the to first panel. i would like to also welcome you all. i am delighted to be part of an event that looks at the
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relationship between law the popular culture. there is a deep and abiding connection. wii gain insights, as we will see today will move back and forth. i will introduce the members of the first panel. mcgillivrayh anne view is a professor of law at the university of manitoba. come on up. courses include crime, law, and society. is written a book called "black ."es all the time is also written "he would have
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ine a wonderful solicitor dracula." omi mezey is a professor of university lawwn center. she is an award winning feature. she is known for her interdisciplinary works on law and culture, particularly popular culture. jorge contreras is an associate professor of law at the
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washington college of law. he comes from a science background. he teaches intellectual property and intellectual property in cyberspace as well as property law. he is prolific. most recently he has published or is about to publish " constructing the genome commons ." i am looking forward to hearing how law professors make sense of "horton hears a who." a lot of property implications
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in that. we will see what emerges. >> we will see the arts and then open things up -- start and then open things up. >> thank you. thank you so much. when she gets a slight up on the screen. there we go. up we should get the slides on the screen. there we go. i want to start out with a little bit of the background here. he was still writing under the name of dr. seuss. the tradetten before
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mark rhymes that we have heard about. it was horton's second appearance. "horton hears a who" has very much gotten the attention. the underlying social messages of the works, horton is no exception. people have talked about themes of otherness and racial equality. it resonates very strongly with the theme of the quality. the same message of a tolerant and racial equality is echoed in later dr. seuss work,
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andicularly "green eggs ham." today i would like to persuade you that horton is about something else. is the law of property. wait, you might say. this is ridiculous. property is often viewed as the most boring and impractical subject taught in the curriculum. i have heard that from my students. through withare disabus that view. what it does both horton have to do with property law? first we have the acquisition of ownership.
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underneath it there is a more unsettling under current, one that could be at odds with the uplifting message of racial equality. mind, i willin proceed with a basic axiom of property law. a finder of lost property is entitled to keep it and that by finding it he obtains good title in the world.worldone it is axiomatic. the most famous silversmith in london, why did this rule arise? there is the possession of a
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certaind gives rise to rights that are superior to the right of anyone who does not possess it. pearsonqually case versus post about fox hunting, the ultimate possessor of a hunted box becomes its owner -- fox becomes its owner. horton is a finder. is a word speck of dust. a tiny civilization happened to exist. it seems to be a mixture of curiosity and altruism. speck floats close to the pool where he is bathing. mostcures it on a clover,
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unusually shaped. he delight in getting to know the tiny residence of whoville. within a couple of pages, a transformation begins to color horton's relationship to whoville. he began street begins to refer to them as his own. he uses words such as "my persons." when they dug into a pool, horton takes his clover and speck and hides away. the kangaroo is in danger in
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something of horton's. multiple times throughout the book. take this back away from him. is use of the term "my" usually used for group association going back to the pharaoh, "let my people go." horton shares no kinship or identity with the whos. he simply plucked them out of the wild. ofbrings ownership everything residing on it. it is not a new idea that the owner of a parcel of land owned it from the center of the earth to the heavens above.
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it will originate the notion of roman law handed down to this day and only slightly modified formulations. it is this reason the land owner claims title to the minerals below the surface to waterfowl that may fly up but it. above it. it is not only the trees on the land but also their trunks and branches and every leaf and insect that crawls on every beef of those trees. every molecule inside of every such insect are all owned by the owner of land. it would w go ithoville. ith whovill go w e. its vehicles, its instruments, and possibly its inhabitants.
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the concept of this is not a new one. it is rooted in laws as old as writing itself. took ancient civilization people against their wills. ofthese cases, ownership people followed ownership of land. ownership of human property did not arise solely in connection with the conquest of new territory. sometimes it came with possession of things such as vessels. consider the case of the spanish slave ship la amistad. the mutineers and demanded the crew return to their homes. it did not happen. they steered the shift toward the united states and ended off of long island. they were taken into custody by
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a u.s. naval vessel. the trial is a famous one. john quincy adams represented the mutineers arguing for their relief. what thesting piece is crew of the naval vessel to capture the ship argued. they argued they were entitled and under laws of to salvagethe law provides that the discoverer of a salvage vessel are entitled to all of its cargo, typically treasure. in this case, a human cargo. been able crew argued that they were entitled to ownership -- the naval crew argued that they were entitled to ownership. how is this different from the passengers on horton's speck of dust?
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horton faces the peril of that. own the common law and our disability faces and owners position of wrongfully taken property. it is for that reason we feel the winter ckersham brothers come. here the reader or young listener becomes a implicit in his ownership claim. he is no longer the subjugate year of an independent people, they he is the victim of simple property that. then a great transformation in the narrative occurs. vladikoff drops the clover into a field.
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he makes it hard to find. vows to recover it. why? pick through 3 million clovers until he finds the one bearing his speck of dust? is he just lonely? that is not come across. is motivated by the sense of altruism and concern for the well-being? if he were then surely he could have left them safely hidden in that giant field of clover were they would have been left alone by the monkeys and kangaroos and anybody else who wished them are pure did that would have been the safest place for the --
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wished them harm. that would have been the safest place for the whos. he had to find his clover and his people. it belongs to horton. he expresses a common refrain of property owners. it to be commonly understood by even the smallest listeners. it is mine. give it back. horton does find his speck again. this is where the trouble begins. he comes face to face with the kangaroo.ority, the calga the kangaroo is acting what she believes to be horton's best
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interest. it is not out of malice. exceptcan hear the whos for horton. he has big ears. this was taken for permanent destruction. of the statet risk wrecking ball. destroyed for the public good. this is not happen. theiranage to overcome problems. they make enough noise is to be heard by the other animals to willingly abandon this plan of annihilation. then we have the happy scene. it surprises us.
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one could see the who releasing it back into a wild where it belongs. that she willsays protect the speck, dedicating to the smallest inhabitants. it is not enough to leave them alone. presumably because of their small size and verbal nature -- lovable nature, the warrant the protection of the state. this move also has a historical antecedents of an unsettling and mr.. one is of the american treatment
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of native land -- and mistreatment. one is of the american treatment of native land. they favored the title claim by the european explorers of 15th and 16th centuries on behalf of monarchs in england, span, and the other christian nations. he justifies that the seizure of land on parts of the character and habits of the native inhabitants who he called "fears ierce savages." rather than treat them as an autonomous citizens, they are relegated to a diminished status
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as wards of the stage. are up as habitants merely occupants to be protected and to be deemed incapable of transferring the title to others. i am not saying that horto"hortn hears a who" is pro-slavery. it is about the longstanding reputation that is well deserved. what i do content is that horton offers insight and attitudes about property and the autonomy of the two peoples. lesser people. in this case lesser in size.
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in the real world, less are in less complementary ways. aston does not think of whos his own because he has designed but becauser notions of ownership are so deeply ingrained. attitudes toerican the native americans who work over protected by the great white bother in washington. this cannot have been far from the minds of many americans in the decade after world war ii. 1954 is when horton was published.
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there is more currency in the imageat the rosy would disappear soon it missed civil unrest of the 1960's. the civil unrest of the 1960's. the sentiment does appear in later works such as "the lorax." poorlynderstandable how property based instabilities permeated the thinking of a midcentury americans both as adults and children. thank you.
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>> ok, a messenger tramples between worlds to bring knowledge to the people. they resist. he suffers. a child mediates. that the messenger is an amiable elephant does not distract from the mystic resonance of "horton hears a who." i now will give a reading of horton and smith did -- a fortune as myth. as myth.orton childhood is a realm of myth and its geography is never outgrown. andapping its landscape
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other worlds into the everyday. with its sideways moral of how to treat others, horton is also review goalie and at the same time as a text on human rights. on childhood matters, of way seven known hominids he sees come only we survived because only we evolved along childhood. on chip is drawing walker who draws on the work of a lot of other people since about 1906. but he explains that children are the most voracious learners planet earth has ever seen. their brains are rapidly developing afterbirth, not inside the safety of the womb, but outside in the wide come,, looted and then predict the ,orld. -- the wide, convoluted and unpredictable world. the part that loves to meander and play, go down blind alleys,
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wonder why an fancy the impossible. it is stories for children that shape that child. and i would suggest that that child we never lose or we would not have dr. seuss conferences and really enjoying that little minor transgression at this moment. this is quoting peter fits .atrick -- peter fitzpatrick "it transcends these limits in the sacred," which he describes as the place as ultimate origin and ultimate identity. myth requires a traveler, a messenger who travels between worlds. we can go all the way to [indiscernible]if we need to, the divine messenger and sort of the spirit or father of alchemy in which a lot of these aspects of things were initially explode -- initially explored.
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that messenger may be a trickster, as in a lot of north american indigenous stories and african stories. a magician, as in the alchemist or a child who locates the everyday within the realm of myth and mediates the resolution can for marshall mcluhan, myth is the instant vision of a complex process. it is in the -- it is the moment in that process that the abstract explodes. the mythological elements of children's stories are themselves to be regarded as an essential site for the emergence of particular understandings of laws. he describes stories for children not as a series of texts about the law, but the
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fusion of law and literature and the key to the constitutive myths and narratives that begin to organize their relationship to law. stories for children reflect law in its mythic infancy and its original power. and evilwledge of good that brings expulsion from the garden childhood. there are many predations of that. the slidingabout scale of responsibility and eventually, your pushed right out of that garden. myth brings the child safely through the gate to childhood is a journey toward law. it's legal -- it's a legal subjectivity to be understood as something more or other then in aliens to a fixed rule set then something more others dated for the loser of the didactic hail.
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literature for children, which is exactly that, the girl who disobeys her mother is eaten by a bear. of course, we have a simple understanding that you cannot undo it. we know it's wrong because the it was wrongy that says that it was wrong. pour didacticism di trunks. you can cram a little bit down, but it won't stay down. so you have a very direct image of morals as something that you sort of sure up. stories of child protagonists represent prodigal
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transgression, hunger and law, journey and return your child motif represents the preconscious child aspect of the collective psyche for carl young and the child is an image that unites the offices as mediator, bring your healing, meaning one who makes whole. for dr. seuss, society depends on it. children's reading and children's thinking are the rock autumn base upon which this country will rise or not rise. books are children have a greater potential for good or evil. if law requires the participatory subject, not a positivist ideal of the subject, but a participatory inventive and therefore a transgressive subject, then this is what a good story for children needs. and that incipient subject of children is found in many
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traditions, but particularly in the nonsense tradition where dr. seuss joins jonathan swift, edward lear, and those who said always hang onto nurse for fear finding something worse. [laughter]and albert to fail to do so is eaten by a liar and then run over by -- i don't remember. , dr. seusse a moral says, we try to sit sideways. he is highly critical of this kind of myth. there is a whole book of essays devoted to it. it ultimately comes down to this. it "lacks a major faculty, that of fabulous and -- that of fab ulizing." most famous for the ad series with the cash line "quick henry the smith" which she also takes
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permutations t. they look an awful lot like the hoos. i don't know quite how seuss addressed that problem. retains theizing, great salesman's grift -- salesman's gift. i thought it was an interesting take on some of the more pieces from romanticizing a little too much about what sues was doing. he was often a salesman and a very funny draft in. but if what he is selling is that using inventive legal subjects, then that is not only a good thing for myths and the incipient subject of law, but it's also the focus of a .ritical legal pluralism an
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pluralism recognize the plurality of legal orders and of sites of nor maturity that may or may not be characterized as law. for example, you may be a follower of the horror scope or opera -- or oprah. but legal tourism acknowledges the process of creating and maintaining myths about reality, which brings a whole critique down to the level of the individual. the subject of lies a subject of a plurality of normative laws is aworlds -- of subject of plurality of normative orders or worlds. first and should never be forgotten is the picture book, what maury sendak calls a seus has grandiscernible]
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and even apocalyptic oceans and skies. second, it is words, some of which are freely invented and arranged in a very particular rinds team -- the jugular rhyme scheme and creates a world of sound and sense. this is not the kind of poetry that is always lost in translation, according to levi strauss. he is not talking about dr. seuss particularly. it's myth for money kind of poetry that is myth. mythical value is preserved even to the worst translation where meaning succeeds practically at taking off from the linguistic round on which it keeps on rolling. and that is incredibly applicable to this type of rhyme for dr. seuss. third zen -- third and fourth is the worlds of hooville.
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c may be believing, but seeing is evidence -- singing may be believing, but seeing as evidence. horton's world saving messages hearsay. wharton is charged with reaching the piece. he is beaten and lynched. his visceral response to differences in the law of the jungle, a metaphorical antithesis of the law. if a -- it threatens the fundamental order of beings. long-held police are threatened. -- wrong held the lease are threatened. d beliefs are threatened. her priority is keeping her world safe for her mini me up and maintaining her own authority.
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hooon defender of the represents competing normative orders. in one version of reality, hoos exist. in another, they don't. each one is real. horton is already accepted that ca. -- you cannotct submit to their extermination. then comes the knowledge that neither people nor the world is subsidiary to the other. it brings knowledge and understanding. we see the joy of the jungle. but what about jojo who made it all possible? is really the heart of the analysis for me. -- this is really the heart of the analysis for me.
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they are secure in their power and privilege and often death of the right claims of the other, the socially invisible who is among us. rights flow from power economy and rationality, both lacking them are excluded from right. the interest theory of right is based in interest. if you have an interest in grounding a duty and another, then you have a right. jojo, the smallest of all is also the most right less of all, or as patricia williams would say unrighted. the smalle safved by st of all. they don't address the fact that jojo is a child. that is interesting.
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we have jojo is occupied japan. we have jojo is the object of civil rights movement. but they never have jojo as a child. but the reader identifies with horton. he's our man can ease our guy. he is our floppy nice element -- nice elephant who is saving someone like me. but he lives in the jungle with a kangaroo give this is not the readers everyday world. --t is the world of google of hooville. that is the world of dr. seuss's child reader. it's as if horton is a mega planet saving the tiny planet earth. or maybe given the socio- specificity of hooville, the modern west. so when the mayor urges for a last voice to make the hoos h
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crib somestarts on a path where a tiny figure dressed in crimson stands alone. his noses in the air. there is a smirk on his face. he knows what is going on and he doesn't care. he is the kind of child who in 50 stock is cruising for a bruising. who, in 1950s talk, is cruising for a bruising. the mayor grabs the young twerp. leading him up the tower and there is a wonderful bouncing scene where jojo is on the outstretched hand of the mayor and is ready to make a big statement. he clears his throat and he shouts yop. a four-year-old asked me recently why that? it rhymes.
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maybe it's yes, a resounding yes. but i think it's just yop. >> that's from walt whitman. >> is it? yes, that would be. but it is still actually yop. so i am reading horton as a parable on childhood, on the child yearning fo be heard, nots a subject or consumer or a future citizen, but as a child. i want to see a bunch of scrappy kids talking back to us, seuss says, and i want to sit there and tell the kid, ok, buddy, i think you're wrong to but if you are so sure of yourself that the steps need to be painted magenta, i will buy the paint. there must be a mythic journey and a journey toward legal subjectivity. message andof the the child to apotheosis, why did
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jojo suffer? why is he alone among the hoos? horton calls him a shirker. the mayor calls him a twerp. he is not lovable. he doesn't even look happy. are thwarted people, seuss says. the idea tragedy is when somebody says you can't do that. while theyop affirms that he can come it to the civil authority of the mayor and the mythic authority of horton make it possible. is alreadyn child possessing his birthright, the virtues of democratic citizen. we know from recent studies that children are born with a moral instinct and very possibly a legal or rulemaking instinct. it is really quite fascinating
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the literature and studies that are coming out. so the souci and -- so the seussian child. they year before horton was is ago cameeuss's out, which was a bit of a bust. he hated it could it there is a wonderful solo by art, which is an anagram of bratt, which makes him brother and sold to twerp. he says, just before josh is because were kids, we are sort of small, because we are closer to the ground in your bigger by the town, you have no right to push and shove us little kids around. to interprete that as saying i have a right, too. i am probably over my time.
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a metaphysician faced with the material of the jungle, horton has discovered that a person is a person no matter how small. the world of constitutions and human rights instruments. in the paper, i discussed the related rights on the convention of the child, which is an attempt to make a universal statement of what is already in many constitutions and bills of rights. but i will mention in regards does notton's act justify a kangaroo court or being a boy according to the suit train court. under our constitution, the condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court. it's the right to be heard. this is also the linchpin of the convention on the rights of the child and the basis of all
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right. this is what that giant yop represents, the yearning to be heard. it is the economist unities that i think are the essence of the seussian child. as for the 1950s, which was a long time ago, that was then, this is now a month as transgressions simply become something sorted i giant corporations and so on and little gold stars for bratt stars and things like that. they still retain a sort of original meaning in terms of what children bring to the table, what children are, about the child within us, about the hope for our continually reinventing law, continually self exploring society and a
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completely much more inclusive one where we are able to -- i mean, seuss was terrified of children. we are terrified of the other. he never knew what they were going to do next. it seems sort of funny, but when you look at children's authors, like morris sendak, a whole lot of them, they are all like dr. seuss. it is that sort of distance that makes us really admire the kind of thing that also makes you very strange. i think that is what we have to take on. the children's blog rights are profoundly about their bodies. norts are neither utopian extraneous, but practical especially in the case of children and i think that horton remains a safe pair of that message. >> hello, thank you
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for having me. i want to initially thank richard, my former colleague who i still miss every day at georgetown. ,nd the other marvelous richard richard sherwin, whose work i greatly admire. thank you all so new york law school the law review for having me here. actuallynt to say follows quite well from what ann was talking about. i do want to talk about children. my talk is tentatively titled " democratic children, democratic hearing." richard ch to use there are layers
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to his stories that will frame what i want to say. i want to set up what i think is a primary narrative inhorton. more accessible narrative. and then read on top of that narrative a secondary one, a slightly less noticeable one hisng but one that is as i under layers are more subversive than potentially problematic. theore subversive and densely problematic -- and potentially problematic. as i later the stories, i want to try not to lose sight of the sensory action, which is not site especially, but sound.
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and the importance not even especially of seeing and speaking, but of listening. children's books are sort of the original multimedia presentation of what -- of visuality and textual poetry. i think that many of us experience these books both as children and then often later as parents or babysitters or caretakers as we read them to children. i remember both of these readings of "horton hears a hoo ." being read to let my grandmothers house. this is the copy that my grandmother read to me. and it's the copy that i read to my children decades later. so i filled a needed to bring it. the same book. -- so i felt i needed to bring it. the same book. this is the
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context in which these books are read and in which these books are heard. you are both speaking and listening because you read children's books out loud. of hearingerent way a story than when you are alone and you are reading silently to yourself durin. so i want to keep that image in mind of being read to. it was not lost on me on any of those occasions that part of the primary argument of these books is about the importance of children, their right to be understood as persons, the central refrain -- a person is a person no matter how small -- but also the importance of their voices among families, nations, and globally. so this is the basic outline of the primary narrative. the secondary narrative
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embedded that i want to make more visible involves three themes that i think are latent, but crucial. both to the logic of the story itself, but also to the future of civil society, the role of children in a democracy, the radical potential of hearing, and the potential of queried caretaking. let me just said at the primary narratives as i understand it. i think it's a story about democratic voice in children, the importance of voice as a political talk home of democracy. that is how to make a collective voice heard and in of ourys the paradox primary form of our collective voice making, which is voting. and the paradox is the individual voice in the collective, the individual
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voice as both crucial to the operation of a democratic collective and at the same time made indistinguishable by being part of that collective. and sometimes add-ons, overridden by the group. at odds,metimes overridden by the group. and the over civil vacation of ever-increasing noise. it's not enough to say the collectively, but how to be heard. in civil server-side he and in law we often use the metaphoric megaphone or so box and stage. ?t's not quite enough, right seuss, in the story, seems a that pains to make clear it only works if everyone contributes to this collective voice. and in fact, here is where jojo
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comes in. despite all the amplification they are not heard until little jojo is found and adds his smallyop. the fact that jojo is called a shirker and eight work and he is -- and a work and he is -- and a twerp and he is doing what little children should be doing, which is playing. so i do think he described well the posture of jojo. and i think the yo-yo is the 1950s whatever i'm a right? he is the embodiment of whatever. he is in the middle of this room and his voice becomes not something that he gets to choose how to use. he is actually confiscated and
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it becomes his national duty to use his voice. he must come to the aid of his country, says the mayor. or at -- and he does least he's made to. and that is where i want to move into the secondary narrative. what was lost on me in these readings, both as a child and as a parent reading and being read to, in fact it was lost on me until the last few weeks when i was forced to think about this but more carefully, was some of these ways in which the isumphant feeling of the yop really rather disturbing. it's meant to feel time, i think. oneeel the yop is the thing that carries them over and makes them heard. but as i thought more of this articular society, hooville,
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it's captivating and the yop feels triumphant because of an assumed characteristic, which is a characteristic incredibly unusual for a democracy, which is the unanimity. jojo's voice amplifies everyone else's. it's a very dark democracy because hooville beaks with one voice. there's no dissent, no debate, no disagreement. the speech is not really chosen. jojo is forced to speak. he is grabbed by the mayor. he is carried up to the tower. and his voice is compelled. i've always loved the little jewish eiffelberg tower. jojo'ser]the yop may be
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own, but it's commanded by the adults. it is the sign that the common purpose, the plight of the country, the survival of the hoos. as the primary narrative affirms, the secondary narrative asks us to consider why and how children are important. in the context of unanimity, they are important to the extent that they contribute to the consensus for the purposes to which they are put by larger persons as those who will ensure the collective survival by being brought within a normative -- within enormative hold. and it makes me think the importance of children, one version of the story is that the importance of children that we continue to affirm is deeply instrumental. and this certainly seems to be the case when you look at the other child in this story the other child in this story is the young kangaroo in the pouch.
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the young kangaroo echoes the sour humphs of the mother and it is heard precisely because it adds to the collective judgment because it knows that it's job is to repeat, replicate, reproduce. it is taught by the larger person just to do this get its refrain, this child's refrain, from beginning to and, from disbelief to mob violence and to change of heart, is always an unthinking me too. of thet is a dismal idea role of the child. i think it rises to the surface in these stories. so the collective on the us back, the jungle of knoll is denigrated, but the primary narrative portrays both of these that sort of the affirmative and
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the negative aspects of nation and group could -- and group hood. they are both united by a common purpose. but on reflection, the societies are more similar than different. and i think the secondary narrative sick just the troubling impulses and it falls of collective life, the pressure toward consensus, the inability of questions, the failure to speak in meaningful ways. but most troubling of all, i think in both cases come in casehooville and newal, of children who are conscripted into the cause and valued precisely for the confirm it he -- for their conformity. i want to discuss hearing and what we should make of our hero horton. does he tell us about individual and collective bodies and voices and about the importance
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of children and their roles relative to the larger society, but even relative to their caretakers. isthe two societies, horton the only one who does not speak as part of a group. in the jungle, he is the lone voice, the dissenter. he speaks on behalf of others am a small and powerless others who are outside the society of the jungle. they are beyond the edge of the known world. is one of the themes that connects with ann's paper as well. they are in the land of myth h. you horton is actually an advocate. that they exist and they ought out to be part. -- not to be hurt. he is not only an advocate, but a listener. the verb in the title of this book, the action around which the story really rotates is the
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ability to hear. horton hears well. it turns out, is not something that naturally happens. it is the active form of hearing, which is listening. and he listens, right? and to listen carefully means to allow for the unseen and the unimaginable and to be able to rethink fundamental roles of exclusion and belonging. this is the challenge listening. i also thought about this in the context where ann ended, each is the right to be heard. we not only have this in our constitution. many constitutions have it the un constitution has an article where the right of the child is
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to be heard freely in any proceedings that affect them. in the 25 years since the adoption of the un convention on the rights of the child, this has been the hardest provision to implement. and it is a small wonder, right? the right to be heard is an odd right. it is a right expressed in the passive voice. it is not the right to hear, but the right to be heard. it's expressed as a right, but it is something more like an obligation on the part of others. being heard in society is really quite different than speaking. we tend to move very quickly from the right to being heard means the right to speak, write , the right to tell your story. i want to suggest that by for grounding hearing in "horton that we are meant to think about what hearing
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means apart from just speaking. and i think that is listening. and the radical version of part ofand listening is the secondary narrative, to be listened to and to be valued. , right?ated as what as someone who is, to have a sense of dignity, of worthiness, belonging. it is to say i am. to be heard as a subject who can state their being. and it is not i am a blank, a hoo, a anything. am.s just i ma so horton advocates for them, not the need to be made to say anything, not to be put to his own purposes, although i'm not
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right sure about this and i will come back to this in a minute, but so that they themselves can be heard and i think this is the optimistic version. the most profound thing he does is listen, listening to children at a minimum, meaning being willing to believe things you can't see, except things you don't understand, and listen to things you don't agree with. things you don't understand, and listen to things you don't agree with. this story ishich told, which is out loud, in which listening is an important component of hearing it. lastly and the third theme i want to sort of gesture at without fully elaborate a -- because i think it actually ties in even more with the first horton book, "horton hatches an egg."
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i don't think horton is gay. i mean, he may be that -- [laughter]but i want to think as thered taking displacement of the mother as the central figure of the caretaker of the child. i also want to bracket and leave i think is also a disturbing theme in many of these books. which is the banishment and denigration of the mother, right? the hat," i in share with you the anxiety that the provokes. those of us made anxious by the cat are those who have already internalized the sort of disciplinary feature of the mother. it's, like, what will my mother say? in some ways, the mother takes
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the form of the classic auto, the law. -- they are either not there and this is classic disney, too am a right, the mother has to be filled off in order for the children to journey into the world, or they are abandoned, which is what happens in the first four tendler -- in the first horton book. the bird mother abandons. and even in "horton hears a hoo ," the kangaroo mother, the biological mother is really reproducing and replicating herself in her genetic child. i want to put that aside because i think there are troubling aspects of the denigration of mothers. but i also want to reaffirm the importance of inking of caretaking as not being only about mothers and the importance for the future of
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civil society in thinking about who care takes and what the responsibilities of all the other mothers, that is, the men, the nonbiological parent, the coparent, the partner, the extended family, the friends, those who are not kin. yet he assumes this role. wasou are talking, i thinking there is something between leaving them alone and owning them. and i think what is between leaving them alone and owning them is being their parent. parenting is someplace between that. liminal position. it is something that in many sues books, there is discomfort about what that means.
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and i totally agree that the most -- that the oddest moment in the story is when horton decides to search them out. to doesn't make sense. it is exactly where they are safest. and what he is doing is acting like a parent. and i think he is acting more like a parent then he is like a property owner, the kind of intensity and the need that he has to find them is as a parent. and i think it also highlights the problematic of pearman to -- a panting in these hooks. -- of parenting in these books. he is not doing them a favor. we think of parenting as protecting cave and sometimes we need to know when not to put that, when to leave them alone, went to allow our children to
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get lost, you know. so i want to sort of validate horto horton as the maternal. in "horton hatches the egg," he really at as the maternal a gear. he is the caretaker. he places them on a very soft clover. he is willing to make sacrifices, to be denigrated, to be abused. and this theme is even more concrete in "horton hatches the egg." he sits in this tree that bends over to the ground with his weight. the amazing thing that happens -- i don't want to get too far off the track -- is that, even though he is just the distasteful surrogate, he comes to feel like it's his.
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of it as his as a parent or as an owner and what is the difference between those two things? he is so heartbroken when the mother bird comes back to seconds before the egg hatches and wants it back. when the bird is born, it has years in detail and a trunk -- it has ears and a tail and a trunk. it is a hermaphrodite. it is a transgendered baby. this is not just the queered child, but horton the queer caretaker. if we think about listening to children in some way other than making them repeat and reproduce who we are as parents, it probably means validating the caretaking roles of those who have a little distance, the
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the lives of in children. the persons whose fate are the central engine of the story are the most enigmatic, right? questions.e they are defined by what they ask. who? who will speak? will speak for home? who will listen? but more fundamentally, who are we or are we just are? that is where i want to stop here and thank you. is this on? to thank george naomi for fascinating contributions. i hope that you share even at
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this early stage my sense of indication of the boldness and fecundity of this symposium. when you think about it, we asked so what is horton hears a whoo and we have gone from the dangers of the paternalistic for her and terry presumptuousness and the yearning to be heard to the dismal idea of forced unanimity and the creative challenge of listening to the other. that is ready sweeping and pretty rich. and this is just the first panel. but now we have an opportunity .o share ideas across tables if you have any questions, this is a time for us to begin to listen to each other.
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>> you just mentioned the term forced unanimity of. -- forced unanimity. >> it's too short a question to justify the long walk. [laughter]i have a slightly different take on what jojo is forced to do. read to have dr. seuss me nor did i read it two children i don't have been -- i don't have. it seems to me that he was not being forced to share an opinion being forced to express its distance. that's all. just i am here. and i don't find that quite is troubling -- express his existence. that's all. just i am here. i don't find that quite as
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troubling. >> that is a very good point. i am not sure exactly what he is being forced to do. maybe it is. maybe that raises a western for me. should we be forced to express and isn't that exactly what the development, the psychoanalytic development of the child is about? coming to understand yourself as separate from the mother to find -- to understand yourself as separate human beings, to find your voice, to express your andtence when you get there when you are ready. i agree with you that that is very different. being forced to express your existence is very different than being made to speak something.
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one ofember that -- so the things that is also strange about this book is quite is the conflict that starts the process? it is the fear that they will fall into the pool. they don't know they will fall into the pool. they are just a dust head -- a dust bed hanging around here and so they fear they will fall into the pool. later, it is the engagement of horton himself that endangers their existence. so expressing their existence is put to the purpose of making someone else hear them in a particular way, that there is content here saying we are here, therefore you must respect us. in some ways, this book does not get to that second question. whence you are heard, what does that mean? there is lots of evidence that, once people are heard, the
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things we want to happen don't necessary -- don't necessarily follow. but i take your point and i i am it's quite good. continuing to think about what it is jojo is forced to do or say. >> i have a different question. >> quickly, i didn't talk much about the whos. taking it back to 1954 in the social context of the time and taking it out of the speech realm -- speech is special, i agree. but if you look at it as the society forcing the last person to do his part, i mean, it invoked in me sort of a notion of the draft, the notions of rosie the riveter, every citizen having to do their part whether it is on the homefront or overseas. and not doing your part is
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shirking your duty to the overall society, especially at a time of greatest need. annihilate and was the endpoint in a pot of oil. so i don't know. i find it hard to separate the sort of social context from the text in that particular plea. >> another way of saying that might be the difficulty of sustaining this state or the anguish or the disturbing quality here is that the child is a vulnerable, cannot maintain his happy-go-lucky freedom because the world is precarious . the fate of his people fall upon his small young vulnerable shoulders. correlate with the mythic nature that you were talking about ann, and the
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fact that the child's economy is compromised by the reality in zabul that says -- reality in zabul that says you must adjust -- reality principle that says you must adjust? >> on the mythic level, he has to do that because that is the story. he is the child that mediates that brings the two worlds together. he is the classic union's -- child.ju junkiangian whitman says i found my barbaric uyop. quitman of course is very much on that mythic level -- whitman
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of course is very much on that mythic level. in the right to be heard, there is also the right not to be heard. and that is one of the things who people who follow the conventions say all the time, that the child has the right not to be heard. you should make the boat do these things. but clearly, on the mythic level, he has to be good because that is the story. on the level of post world war ii and the cold war, the occupation of japan, democracy and bulls for the japanese children and so on, -- democracy principles for the japanese children and so on, s euss is very used to children being coerced. you will always get that duality. the red-blooded does come i think you as being quite funny in that speech actually. i want to say very quickly -- i mean, it was a very swift eagle
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of strong weighing. the bald eagle is the symbol of democracy and power. that is how i read it. you still have that eagle out there. so i don't think there is a happy way to resolve it. we will be happy in a moment of terror and of threat and when every voice has to be heard, whether you want to or not, it's just the way that he draws jojo which is against the grain of the fact. or if that is what he meant to convey. not a happy boy. >> i will change it a little bit because we are in the middle of a debate about violence again and video games and what they do to children. i guess my question goes to i've of the dr. seuss
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books to my children and my grandchildren get but if you think about them, every single one of them, including sendak, they are soul of fear and violence -- they are full of fear and violence. are we doing what comics were alleged to do, with the aliens are alleged to do, and the very acceptable children's books do and we are teaching our children are about violence perhaps without realizing what we are doing? >> bruno bettelheim would say that children have to have those horrible fairytales in order to make sense of what is going on in them. sendak would say something sort of similar, although i don't think you would like bettelheim very much. those things are feelings that children have. "where the wild things are" saved my little brother. these are not sold -- these are not stories of my childhood. reading it to him, he had nightmares and they stopped. but my son is terrified by them.
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i could not read it to them. on we are not laying this children or forcing them on childhood. we are pulling them out of our childhood. sendak talk about that quite a bit. find's a point where you a point where there's nothing left and children are left feeling that all of these terrifying things should not be talked about because they don't have a place of existence. >> i want to link this up with hearing and listening. children are afraid and their imaginations are violent and the world is a scary place. it's not all that they experience, but it is clearly part of what they asked earrings at some point or another, sometimes for a long time. there is something about hearing that that is validating.
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to or play to listen a game in which that fear is recognized and heard. >> i'm certainly no expert, but my sense is that scary stories can go much farther back than these 20th century -- the brothers grimm are terrifying in their original incarnations. , theey dahmer and so forth brothers grimm. children are characters in the play themselves. >> can i jump in before you? i was very worried about this. where the wild things are always comes up when you talk to eddie .
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she said, "children need a safe lace to play out their tears -- a safe wastplace to play out the terrors." and they can move on and grow. >> i was interested in what happens tohorton once he hears the who. and therefore needs to be heard. isn't horton in that jungle in the position, although he's th e largest, in the position of dojo in whoville. in jojo was brought in to speak as all for one, doesn't he speak not as one of the members of the whounity, but as a figure of is acknowledged in his identity
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as a twerp, as a figure who does not wish to belong? giveoesn't givhis yop expression to what he adds to what was previously heard that transforms everything? that is, is in jojo the figure whose voice that previously wasn't even acknowledged adds that which changes both newal and whoville? hasn't that additional voice produced a sound that turns one for all into all for one another? which is a totally different relation from all but one or one for all. it adds a principal of mutual concern that renders the distinction drain a parent and -- distinction between a parent
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and a motive affiliation they cannot be identified as parenting or owning into a suspended kinship relation. jojo producedend a different motive affiliation that turns questions of ownership, parenting, exclusion into terms that have really been moved beyond? >> thank you. isn't just the things are restored to the way they were before. there is a new factor, a new knowledge, what jung would call it capitalism with a w. it is new relations. all you get is that one page at the end of the book where everybody is really happy and all the monkeys are coming down from the trees with these goofy grins and horton is all perked
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up. the fact is that horton was about to die quite violently. i was actually shocked. he goes on and on about what they were doing to horton's flesh. you only need one messenger. you don't need to. but this one has the child than the mythic messenger. and the parallels are very strong. you know so little about jojo, but you know without jojo, all of these terrible things would have happened. you also know, in that this ration is -- in that restoration, a reconciliation. but it's only one page. he's gone through so much. but who knows what happens happily ever after anyway? i have this picture of horton back in his cool. the messenger days are over here in -- are over.
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the kangaroo goes back to her busybody like a but it will never be the same. they can't go back to believing that there is nothing else out there. they are teaching children this book, 10 and 11-year-olds, and they are talking about finding other worlds and how to retrieve them. it makes you think of the 1960s fiction and the search for goldilocks lost planet. >> i want to say really briefly that that is a wonderful question. i do think that there is in their and longing for alternative forms of affiliation. i don't think it's actualized in this book and it is actualized to the extent that there feels to be a moment of transformation.
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and maybe the thing that is just your dad is the idea of cosmopolitan citizenship, an understanding -- that is actualized is the idea of cosmopolitan citizenship an understanding. but that story doesn't get told and maybe because it's not tell a bowl -- it's not tellable yet. >> folks, i hope you will join me in thanking the panelist. of these]>> another panels hosted by the new york law school review and the new york law school racial justice project focused on personal rights of identity in the writings of dr. seuss. this is an hour and 10 minutes. [applause]>> thank you. i was not expecting such a lovely introduction. i am a little red from the
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embarrassment of the lovely words and also because i have a cold. so forgive me. and i won't be as generous with our panelists in the introduction. so i apologize. rise of lots of personal issues and rights and hierarchy. we have an amazing panel that will talk about some of the issues raised in the book to the issues they will discuss a range from gay rights struggles for racial equality. our first speaker will be dennis parker who is the director of the racial justice program and an adjunct at the program at the aclu and an adjunct professor here at the law school. prior to joining aclu, he was the chief of the civil rights bureau and the office of the new york state attorney general. he spent 14 years at the naacp legal defense fund where he supervised the litigation throughout the country that address matters of elementary
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and secondary education, a formative action in higher education, and equal educational opportunity. he is also the reason why sarah was able to say such nice tings about me because he was my supervisor when i was there and taught me everything that i know. he will discuss issues of racial equality, growing rights and speeches in "the year of the turtle." our second speaker is peter nicholas. he is a officer of lot the. -- at the university of washington school of law. prior to pursuing in the law, professor nicholas was a research economist at the university of michigan and served as a member of the ann arbor city council. he will discuss the speeches and the current battles over gay rights, same-sex marriage, the gay minority and the gay
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minority in the leaders of the african american community. we have the professor of law at armored law school. before her ointment, she was a tenured professor at the university of pennsylvania law school. and she worked in the civil rights commission at the united states department of justice and headed the voting rights project at the naacp legal defense fund. with professor guinier is a word ontudent, a spoken us -- spoken word artist. rian willguinier andrian discuss racial literacy and the way the theory of racial literacy challenges the work of dr. seuss. so first, we will have professor parker. >> thank you very much
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and thank you to the new york law school and for the project for inviting me. i taughtlly more like her everything i knew and then she went on and learned a lot more fortunately for her students here at new york law school. i can't think of a worse position to be in then to appear after a group of very cute for-year-olds and before the rest of this really distinguish panel [laughter]i am truly intimidated, but i will soldier on. i think is particularly fitting to discuss the issue of personal rights of identity and dr. seuss at the same time that the united states supreme court's is considering two cases that touch upon the issue of personal identity. these two cases, fisher versus the university of texas and shelby county versus holder, both involved challenges in efforts to ensure the
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representation of vital areas of american civil society, voting and education. both cases deal with areas in which continuing barriers to participation exists for people of color. barriers which reflect and perpetuate centuries of discrimination and subordination. in fisher, as you know, the court considers the challenge to an admissions policy which mirrors the one the supreme court approved fewer than 10 years earlier in the michigan higher ed cases. because of the bizarre way that jurisprudence has evolved, the consideration of race and university admissions is generally ignored or ignores the history of inequality in education and come in particular, in the fisher case, the prior history of the
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university of texas which come as you know, was one of the first schools that sued successfully because of its racially discriminatory policies. and the court, when considering whether or not or the extent to which the university can take , is into consideration required to ignore the harsh realities of resistant structural discrimination which continues to disadvantage people of color. and instead consider a question that is framed as the balancing between the somewhat abstract notion of diversity, balanced against the rights of students to be admitted to the school without any consideration of race. so it is a sterile discussion, one that ignores the very comic aided factors that have this advantaged people of color historically. likewise, in the shelby county
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case, the court considers the constitutionality of section five of the voting rights act. a statute that is widely considered to be the most effective civil rights statute in the nations history, which was authorized unanimously by the senate and in a near unanimous vote in the house after extensive hearings that presented evidence of the continuing need of these -- of this loss protections because of the clear presence of continuing this commission in voting in the state covered by the statute. but as suggested by the questioning by the more conservative members of the supreme court earlier this week, it is very possible that the continued need to retain that section of the act to counter present discrimination may play a relatively small role in the thinking process and decisions of many of the justices. in both cases, the discussions of the issues pertaining to
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race often occurs in a way that is reminiscent of children's books in that they seem to reflect a world that bears little relation to the real world. and in which logic is frequently turned upon its head. perhaps the most glaring example can be seen in some of the questions that justice scalia asked this week or statements that he made where he suggested that the narrowly unanimous support of congress for the voting rights act suggests that the support for the act was week here in -- was week and that the act was designed to protect voters against discrimination somehow unfairly privileged a group, although he did not specify the group, although it was clear who he had in mind. comments like this would be perfectly at home in a children's book, perhaps one more file as carol than dr. seuss. lewis carroll
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than dr. seuss. i know it's summarized here and there was a very good summary done this morning, but we need to cover a couple of minutes. for those of you who have not read it recently, the book considers the societal structure of beach lulling avian creatures who, but for the presence of a star on the stomach of some of them come. zach went and go. -- appear -- of some of them, appear identical. denied some of the most basic rights of any creature and that is the opportunity to play ball and feast on hotdogs and marshmallows.
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and unlike their star-delete equivalents. most of the list rations depicted the plane buried -- the eches.bellied snitchee a cat offers him a shot of equality by processing them through a machine that, for a prize, places a star on their bellies. but instead of earning them acceptance, the stars only reinforce to the anger and the the anger and the prejudice of the privileged allowhes who refusing to the equality of them suggest having their stars removed by bean,eek been -- by mr. mc again for a cost.
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it ends only when the sneetches anout of any and it ends in confused state of who is who in terms of who had stars originally and who didn't get who didn't. mr. mcbean leaves town with all of their money, laughing all the way to the bank as it were. ,ut in typical storybook fact they are unable to distinguish who is the privileged and underprivileged and they join hands and frolic together on the beach. there are some things that i want to throw out for a discussion. the first is the time that the book is written in 1961, which is prior to the passage of the majorrights laws, the
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civil rights laws, including the voting rights act. and although much of what is stated there seems commonplace certainly at the time, it was probably very revolutionary to discuss the fact that there was true equality and that the things that separated people really didn't make a difference. reading through this, i had a number of questions. it's unclear to me whether the plane-bellied sneetches themselves had hotdogs and marshmallows and toys. it was unclear to me how long this had been going on. was there a history of discrimination by the star- bellied sneetches. but there are some things that suggest that the plane-bellied sneetches more than food and recreation were looking for acceptance from the star- belliedsnee sneetches and they e
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constantly trying to get that. -- somes come out things come out. the book is about a hierarchy that excluded the plane-bellied sneetches it was designed to preserve privileges that were associated with the star identity. to the idea of equality on the part of the plane-bellied sneetches is eerily similar to the resistance that the country had experienced in the attempt to desegregate schools and continues to experience in the attempt to assure equal opportunity in education. there was a third party who profited from it tends by the plane-bellied sneetches to win the approval of the more favored sneetches.
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haps the more important question was at what cost was the equality that we see at the end of the book attains ,here as was mentioned before one of the costs was the eradication of history, that basically the only reason there was inequality was because that was completely eliminated -- there was equality was because that was completely eliminated, the differences between them but also the history of the discrimination and the mistreatment of the plane- bellied sneetches. and as has also been pointed out, that it occurred only when there was the elimination of the wealth distinctions between all of the sneetches by basically eliminating wealth from all of them. reading this and listening to the news and thinking about the fisher in the voting rights
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case, it made me think about how much the modern court seems to embrace part of the race neutral values that up. the end of the book and that the -- that appear at the end of the book and that there are a number of similarities to what some of the more conservative members say. longesn't consider the history of discrimination and certainly doesn't see it as a reason for either continuing the voting rights act -- i should say, there is no decision yet, but, as a litigator, there are few cases that i feared more than these two were whose results i feared more than of these two. unlike the book, i think the discussion of the consideration of race makes no real acknowledgment of any other factors other than color.
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they don't take into consideration even the wealth factor that appears in this and they don't consider the way that one group has benefited from the prior history of discrimination. and i think the other big difference between a lot of the discussions around race conscious decision-making and snsneetches is that, in the eetches and we will be hearing some of the concerns about the message of race neutrality and they are valid concerns, but at the very least, the neutrality that occurs at the end of the sneetches, at least leads to equality. my concern is that the supposedly race mentality that is discussed very commonly in the court decisions will ultimately lead to a
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thatnuation of the pillage is enjoyed by a group that has historically benefited from prior discrimination. i did a quick google search in preparation for this discussion that shows not surprisingly that reference to the sneetches appears repeatedly in articles in the discussion of race with elementary students and younger students. the overwhelming majority of these articles reject the idea that acknowledging race is a desirable in dealing with young children and instead supports the necessity of having well- thought-out discussions about race with students, starting in preschool. many of these articles start with the discussion of thesnee sneetches is an entry point to
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that discussion. but then detailed and thoughtful and nuanced and lesson plan that recognizes difference and diversity in students and aims to prepare students to deal with this diversity in real life. it's ironic that these lesson plans were discussions for children in our lowest grades and that being more nuanced than many of the discussions in our highest courts. thes pretty too can really discussion of race and the sneetches which is used in the first up of the discussion is eerily similar to a concept of race which is the increasingly -- which is increasingly becoming the last word in our courts. thank you. >> good morning and a special thanks to the new york lost will -- new york law
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school law review for making me a member of this disc and wished panel during -- this distinguished panel. it really allowed a synthesis of two things that are very important to me. one is collecting dr. seuss books. i am an avid collector. second is my area of teaching which is a focus on discrimination against sexual minorities with a particular focus on the equal protection laws. so the sneetches was the perfect story for me to do that. has a good collector, i am good at knowing when i have a first edition of a dr. seuss book. for example, those of you who will be talking about the lorax later, if you look at the additions that are out there, it won't have the sentence "i hear that things are just as bad aup at lake erie" because dr. seuss got some criticism saying that rings were not nearly as bad -- that things were not
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nearly as bad after a cleanup. so i tried to figure out if there was any sort of evolution in the story of the sneetches. and there was. while most people think about the colorful 1961 version of the sneetches, dr. seuss trialed a lot of his stories in "redbook magazine" in the 1960s. there is quite a bit of defense between the two versions of the story. in the 1953 "redbook" or is much of the story is the same. plainaction of the bellies to discrimination is not to judge in. they get angry and they start -- is not ejectiodejection. get angry and they start throwing things. and it does not have a happy ending. that is 1953. in 1961, dr. seuss revised the
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story. he changed the mood of the plane bellies. they were no longer wil only hottie. aughty. were no longer ho nobody knows exactly what he had in mind. some people think it was the struggle for racial equality. some people thought it was an allegory about anti-semitism. the truth is that it doesn't matter that much because the themes are so universal that they have in invoked by a number of groups over the years. and i'm trying to invoke it here as an allegory for the struggle of gay rights in the united states. my thesis is relying on the insights of social dominance theory. i conclude that the story of the sneetchse is not so much twot the struggle between
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different groups, but the impulses among everybody, a discriminatory impulse and an insecure impulse. and that that sort of motivates how we behave in these social struggles. i mentioned social dominance theory. it is a relatively new theory melded the tween psychology and sociology and they simply causes that humans are hardwired to maintain these group-based social hierarchies where you have a dominant or hegemonic group at the top and a negative reference group at the bottom. and these are usually born using arbitrary characteristics and a are maintained through a variety of tools, including legitimating myths, stereotypes used to justify the social hierarchy as .ell as behavioral asymmetry those in the in group have a strong preference for their own group where those in the out group actually have a strong
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favoritism for the dominant group. this is sort of reminiscent of the work studies that were cited in brown versus board of education. also, those who are in what is designated as subordinate groups, they tend to take the negative stereotypes about them as behavioral scripts and they become a self-fulfilling prophecy. and some within their group take on an oppositional identity cared so if anyone within the outside of that stereotype, they are accused of things such as trying to act white or trying to act straight or what have you. a couple of other points about social dominance theory, the theory posits that the impulse is not limited to those in the dominant group, but also extends to those in some of the inferior groups. nobody wants to be that negative reference group at the bottom.
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second, although the impulse is hardwired, it is not invariably consistent. so some groups, women for example, are less likely to possess that desire to create --up-taste hierarchies group-based hierarchies as men. the latter theories viewed the behavior as a result of the oppression from the majority whereas social dominance theory views it as a hardwired part of our psychology. and much of social dominance theory can explain what is going on, at least the 1961 version of theete -- of the sneetches. it's arbitrary. they use legitimating myths to
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reinforce that and you have differences between the two groups in terms of their in group versus outgroup favoritism. moving that to the struggles for gay rights, the most obvious example of that is this sort of drawing the distinction between the heterosexual majority on the one hand and began lesbian minority on the other hand just as the star-billy sne star- bellied sneetches use it to exclude the plane-bellied sneet ches. so they take sexual orientation to justify discrimination against days and lesbians. here it is, located because sexual orientation, unlike the star, is not necessarily automatically visible. so the same things are serving double duty as both the markers
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of social acceptance or analogies as the stars and the frankfurter roasts or marshmallow toasts from which gays and lesbians are excluded. think of things such as marriage, wedding rings and services, the military with uniforms and badges, even the ability to donate blood with a sticker who says he nice to me, i gave blood today. those are the stars in this battle and also the things from which began lesbian minority is being excluded. even within areas where gays and lesbians get acceptance, you see this sort of continued effort for distinction rights. so in the marriage equality at not ok, but we will call it something else. it is a massachusetts marriage, but not a federal marriage or something that other states have to recognize here in there are all sorts of legitimating myths
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that are used to justify these varying laws, myths about promiscuity and predatory sexual , you know,ch in turn there are some people who take that as a behavioral script if there is no secret that some gay people are promiscuous. but it fits into the theory. nevertheless interesting part of the story. the more interesting part was to explore two some battles -- sub battles. one with some parts of the african-american community and the gay community and then the gay community itself. advocates of same-sex marriage frequently invoke the loving analogy in the political and legal spheres. as attorneys, we know the value of analogy. et invoking that loving
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analogy sometimes it provoked an angry response from some members within the african- american community. i recently watched a debate in wyoming over whether to extend marriage rights to gays and lesbians and a state representative, an african- american member of the legislator, had a plea to gay attackingans to stop on the civil-rights movement. that negative response is not uniform. we have an african-american president was one of the most support of of the rights of any president and recent trends in african-american voting show it is moving closer to the split in the country generally. nonetheless, this tension exists. some of the objections raised are differential histories in the discrimination, slavery, jim crow, segregation and the fact
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that interracial marriage was criminalize and on revenue mike. arguments about race versus sexual orientation and the differences in visibility. the idea that race is always visible whereas sexual orientation not necessarily. what was interesting is that a lot of that tracks what equal protection doctrine hires. when i thought about mcbean's machine, i thought about this bill -- this dual tension. you want that star, you want to point to that thing that's visible because that accost additional doctrine says you need to do to get that heightened scrutiny. differenteople in minority groups are seeking assimilation to get rid of that thing that distinguishes them. i thought that was an interesting attention.
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it was not enough to explain this particular attention. here is where i thought social dominance theory was helpful. social dominance theory posits that those in subordinate groups also want to maintain the hierarchy because they do not want to be the negative reference group. ere, you could posit for some within the african-american community, gays and lesbians could dip -- could be there- reference group. you want to make sure you are out of one at the bottom of that hierarchy. no one thing can explain everything going on but thought that was an interesting thought. within the gay community, i think those outside assume there is one gate position on issues like same-sex marriage and gays in the military and those sorts of things. the battle within the gay
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community, for ease of discussion i divide it into the assimilation rest and the non conformists. the assimilationists of the approach that you need to get rid of formal discrimination by the government that we will have a happy ending of the 1961 version of "the sneetches." the non conformists having two prong criticism. this is a fool's errand. no matter how much quality we get, the majority still view us as different and interior so this is a waste of time. then that it comes at too high a cost. erasing things that distinguish the gay community. conformance all the 1953
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version of the story where they are equally toddy. they criticized the -- they tionists for point to the insecurity they have. what is interesting about the critique as it goes on is a concern by the non conformists that if same-sex marriages legalize, they will be marginalized because now nobody will fight for their rights. so what's interesting, they view the world as distinguished and between the good gays who are monogamous, marry and raise a family, and the bad queers who don't fit into that mold. there are two parts that are really telling about that.
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despite the image of being equally hoddy, the non conformists share of that insecurity of not wanting to be the out group. second, it's fair to say some themilationists are using bad queers as their of negative reference group. if you read some of the riding -- writings of assimilationists -- the law as social policy. if you walk through social dominance. - dominant theory, you can see the similarities going on there. you can argue the assimilation ists are trying to seek
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those things that make them liked. who is sylvester mcmonkey mcbean? outis added tehre to point the story is not just about discriminatory impulses and insecurities of humans but also as we have heard, that some people have a vested interest in keeping people divided and at war. , who is sylvester mcbean? over time, and professional class a proponents and opponents of such rice -- of such rights have developed over the years, which is not to sit people entered these battles in bad faith.
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everybody can have the old tensions but some people are depending for their livelihood and relevance on continue discriminatory impulses, coupled with insecurities. what was ironic to me as the road this essay, i did it derrin the 2012 campaign in washington state for same-sex marriage. car they're better uses for the money? as i am writing this, i get e- mails from supporters of legalization with ominous warnings about the strength of the opposition, asking for just $3 to help fight back. like the sneet ch, you can have them for $3 each.
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not to say here is there are good people and that people, which i think is one way to read the sneeetches. in i read the story -- these different roles we play in society, we have competing forces within us and they sometimes cause us to react or advocate in a particular way. the goal is to just get us all to think about what we're doing when we do that. thank you for listening to me and i look forward to the rest of the panel. [applause] me andk you for inviting
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allowing me to do some things with this time, space and power awaye podium that may veer from the professorial approach to problem-solving. you will understand what i mean by the end of this talk. what was talk about approachh dr. seuss' in describing "the sneetches." it was a very positive analysis of individual discrimination based on superficial, and external characteristics.
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the solution to this on fairness -- unfairness between groups of people who were basically very similar except for one group have stars on their belly and one did not, that suggested the problem with discrimination and unfairness was simply located in the minds of individuals who then enacted that unfairness. i want to suggest -- this is professors andink lawyers spoke before me -- we have a society where it is not sneetches" but ylvester mcmonkey mcbean who
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exploited those who have the stars and those who did not have the stars. off ofe lots of money .his exploitation the disparities in their relationships that were long- lasting were vulnerable to coming up and becoming issues again and again. what do i mean by this? we have to think and we have to give credit to dr. seuss that when he started writing these articles for magazines, there was something wrong with our society when individuals did not like each other or did not interrupt with each other because of superficial
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differences. the captors that in "the sneetches." -- he captures that in "the sneetches." it is not this superficial differences between co individual that is corrupting our society but there is meta narrative that justifies the kind of interaction. until we challenge the story behind the story, we will have situations where "the sneetches" with the stars make it along with "the sneetches" without the stars until something substantial is at stake at which point i would suggest people will revert to their group with which they are most familiar to try to assert power. let me give you an example of what i'm talking about. thatially since we learned
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dr. seuss study writing -- started writing about "the sneetches" in 1950's. i want to take us back to 1957 in little rock, arkansas. there were nine black children who were picked very carefully, well groomed, well presented, who were going to desegregate school, theh- alawite high school. the reaction of this -- the all white high-school. the reaction to this desegregation was amazing animosity. not just we will not pay attention to you, we will reject you -- it was people, white people, coming out of central almost at warnd
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with the black kids desegregating the schools. you could see this, some had stars on their bellies, some of all didn't and over time we live happily ever after accept there is a power struggle going on that we are never privy to. what is the power struggle? at the same moment that little rock, central high school was being desegregated, the doctors, lawyers, heads of organizations, the people with money built another high school in the western part of little rock where their children could now go said it would not have to be part of what was happening at
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central high school. we never hear about the evacuation of the upper-middle- class kids at the same time leaving the poor working-class whites to deal with this new set of circumstances. the poor and working class whites felt that they had lost power in this new configuration because it was their opportunity to in some ways meet, greet and get to know the people in power that was going to be a means of their moving on up. chosen, weres were middle class or working class blacks, very well dressed, and
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they went into this cauldron in which you could say they did not have the stars on their belly and that with the problem. the problem is much more complex. the problem was ware is power in this set of relationships? the power had exited such a high school. high-schoolat hall preselect behind a working-class whites and blacks fighting together who was going to be part of this new community. and it's consistent with our meta narrative which is the american dream meta narrative, and that meta narrative is if and play hdrd -- hard
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by the rules, you will succeed. what happens if you fail? we do not have him meta narrative for if you work hard, play by the rules and you fail. except that we do. race. if you work hard and play by the rules and then you do not exceed, that is because black people have stolen the american dream. and beth roy, sociologist, and to view the number of these students at central high school -- interviewed a number of the students at central high school. she interviewed them 30 years later. they were still passed -- pissed off. have anoblem is that we american dream narrative that says if you work hard and play by the rules, you will succeed in these whites had worked
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hard, but they play by the rules and still the not succeed. they need an explanation for failure and that is when race becomes the explanation. these black people are taking our jobs, we do not want affirmative action because they are getting privilege opportunities that we do not have access to. people, i am about talking about the people that's beth roy interviewed alone -- it's that the american dream does not have an explanation for failure other than race. or incompetence. and these white, middle-class students felt that they had of becauseadvantage
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they lost their contact towards upper mobility when the sons and daughters of the doctors and lawyers let central high school. what do we do about that? and many other liberals suggest that we are all the same, we all should get along, we should be treated individually and our competence will become evident. the problem with that approach is that many of the people who were at central high school, the working-class whites as well as the blacks who integrated it and enormousks who now arn percentage of the people at central high school, they don't
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have an affirmative narrative either. and the idea that dr. seuss was in some ways giving us this affirmative narrative, misses the underlying story which is we don't want to talk aout class -- about class so instead we talk about race. what do we do to change that? one suggestion i have made in the past is to think more about racial literacy than racial liberalism. when i say racial literacy, i did not mean learning how to read and write. but i do mean learning how to read, write, and understand what
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is happening when certain groups foreople are being blamed large problems and whether it is poor people who are somehow not working hard enough or black men who somehow are violating the criminal laws and our society that we have to stop and frisk them and now have incarceration rates that beat any other country in the world. i am suggesting that we understand the source of power in this country and that is where i think "the sneetches" is an important story. the source of power was not the ability of "the sneetches" with the red stars learning how to
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deal with those without stars. the source of power was our friend sylvester mcmonkey mcbean. he was coming in there taking money from all of those people. then what he had enough money, he left town. he had enoughce money, he left town. not so they could enjoy better housing and better food. he was there to exploit them. what i fear about the approach pod ofseuss, which was a intervention, leads us to believe it is just about can't we all get along when it is about creating a meta narrative
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that does not put the burden on those who are most poor are those who are most black. meaning, we have to stop blaming the people who are the victims of our emphasis on the rags to instead beginnd racially more literate about the ways in which we are using race to provide us with the antidote for the other side of the american dream and narrative. if you work hard and play by the rules, he will succeed but what if you work hard and play by the rules and do not succeed? we need a narrative for that. that is where the concept of racial literacy becomes really important. by racial literacy, i do not mean that you have read all the
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books by people of color in your now literate in what they said. by racial literacy, i mean that you are able to read race in its many configurations, that you understand that in our country, race is like passive smoke. if you're in an environment were other people are smoking, you are breathing what they exhale. you're not doing it intentionally. he may not even be doing it knowingly with your being what they're putting out there. their smoking is not just harming them in terms of their potential of getting lung cancer, and is also affecting all the people who are breathing
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the same air. it's that idea that it's not aned that people they'll rescued us from the conundrum we are in. it is that we need to educate ourselves about where the sources of power are. we need to look not at the sneetches by sylvester mcmonkey mcbean to find out where the power is and to use that learning to distribute power in a very different way. thsi may sound -- this may sound -track so i have invited one of my former students who was a terrific didn't, someone who was president of his class at columbia -- a terrific students,
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who was president of his class at columbia, he cracked a whip from harvard law poetry, the 200 nuyorican slam winner. example ofbody an racial healing mercy so we can get the benefit of your advice -- he will embody an example of so we can gety the benefit of your advice. [laughter] >> things are often not what they seem. .ife is a registration you have been in this
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situationcothisps on the bl ock on your jock around the clock acting like you're cooking not. and you're if i have not done anything wrong, how come his gun is in his palm? shuttlethe valley in the like a 23rd psalm. shadow like ahe 23rd psalm. five minutes, 10 minutes, what's going on back1 back15, 20, what are we still waiting here -- five minutes, 10 minutes, what's going on back there? 15, 20, what are we still doing
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here? ain't cocked and the cops asking, hands in the air. the cops searched my crotch like a porno song. backside?u up my in my pockets. you're under arrest. the other one craps his gun. the run. you're on laughed in my face like i'm a musliim eating bacon. gets so mad, she explodes. she stepped in the street. officer, this must be a case of mistaken identity. he is a well-known poet and
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present activist. we are just on our way home from this award ceremony. i know you do not know me but i am an md. be never know whne you might sent in to see me. the cop was like doc, are you threatening me? this ain't easy for me either, greuel, please do not make it worse. nobody move, nobody gets hurt. to the 31st precinct. guy, i'me wrong innocent. ain't nobody trying to listen. nobody knows the plots. lights, camera, action. they snapped my mug shot.
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no lawyer, no rights read. professors know i'm not a criminal like these cops ready to take a shot. nothing you can do, boy. youre on lock. second become minute, minute become ours. -- hours. i'm in a bronx cell with people who ain't showered. ex-con with a cap on. fresh out of disinfectant. so we breath and piss as the moon breaks day. dragged into the interrogation room, we begin. i see a blond attorney shuffling papers. don't take it personal.
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help you.e to like she's ining danger. needs jesus as her savior. shakes my hand with plastic gloves on behind a surgical mask. this is a at up -- this does not add up. when did you finish high school? 16, my senior year. how did you pay for college? scholarships, loans. you say you went to graduate school? after colombia, i went to nyu. how did you pay for all these degrees? i got muy master's on a full
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ride. nothing new. that's what immigrant kids get killed trips to do. a law degreeave from harvard too. why didn't you respond to the charges? was out ofow, i town. allison is done listening. in addition to being an attorney, i am also a registered nurse, specializing. in mental specializing it is my obligation to inform you, you may have a bipolar disorder. you have never been to india. you did not teach at nyu. i am not sure anything you have told me is true. it's nothing bad. just sometimes people create
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alternate realities for themselves as a coping mechanism for dealing with stress. you are just under a lot of stress. crazy >ng mlling me the attorney said to save me does not believe i'm me. aha [applause] -- [applause] t to -- you don't want to talk? >> i am happy to say something. this is based on real-life events and not fabricated, although one of the most of soweto magazines in the world or
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finished a after we performance of the production this is a piece of, published in print that it's a moving story but i don't know why he made all those things up. that's all i think i should say. >> thank you. [applause] >> we have time for questions. please find your way to one of the microphones. >> do the panelists see any relevance today in the fact that wasthe seuss story it more expensive to maintain
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privileged than it was to earn a privilege? any think that it's like sort of right that's vested, you don't realize how valuable it is. a right being something we sometimes would not think of as a positive thing. you do not know how valuable it was until you have lost it. that is perhaps why he is able to charge more from the people who are at risk of losing their privileged. if i recall correctly, the price might have gone here -- it might have continued to vacillate after the initial round. i'm talking more in terms of
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the cost, whether or not across the privileged class more to try to keep being a privileged class than the cost the not so privileged class to reach that goal. is it costly to the privileged in today's society to try to keep privilege? >> could you explain what you mean by costly? >> lack of development of society as a whole. if you maintain privilege, perhaps you are not allowing certain things to develop that we would all be better off for. just being discriminatory or being afraid of people, it may be more of that.
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perhaps is not relevant. t the n you talk abou privilege, do you mean people who do not worry about being confronted with a police officer with the hard-driving -- when they are driving? >> i am referring more generally to people on top to discriminate against others. i think the price they pay is a bargain. they get a lot of benefits that far exceed what they pay. the cost is a societal cost. it is borne by other people and assures people who are most
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qualified are not guaranteed to get the opportunities. i think it is one that ends up adversely affecting society as a whole. the people at top, the reason they are willing to pay that higher price is because it is worth a lot. >> that's exactly the point i would try to make in terms of what happened in little rock in 1957. the privilege to got to maintain their privileges. the poor and working-class whites carried more of the b urden than the privileged. what the majority has the vantage of getting to spend other people's money. usually they seek to defend an existing discriminatory regime which means it is really a government paying to defend these